On the Origin of Afterlife Beliefs by Means of Memetic Selection

In Keith Augustine & Michael Martin (eds.), The Myth of an Afterlife: The Case against Life After Death. Rowman & Littlefield (2015)

Somewhere in the mists of the past, we somehow picked up the idea of an afterlife from our culture. So, where did this idea come from in the first place? The problem is not that there aren’t any plausible theories to explain it; the problem is that there are too many. Some claim that the belief in an afterlife is wishful thinking; others that it’s a way of encouraging socially desirable behavior; and others still that it represents ancient people’s best effort to explain strange phenomena such as dreams. More recently, it has been suggested that afterlife beliefs are the handiwork of evolution by natural selection, or byproducts of various evolved psychological capacities. According to one approach, afterlife beliefs are products of natural selection, but not natural selection operating on genes or any other biological entities. Instead, afterlife beliefs are products of natural selection operating among ideas or memes. 1. A Plethora of Theories - 1.1 Wishful Thinking - 1.2 Social Glue - 1.3 Social Control - 1.4 Primitive Science -- 2. Evolving an Afterlife - 2.1 A Spandrel in the Works - 2.2 Afterlife Beliefs as Selfish Memes -- 3. Why Go There?
Keywords No keywords specified (fix it)
Categories (categorize this paper)
Buy the book Find it on Amazon.com
Edit this record
Mark as duplicate
Export citation
Find it on Scholar
Request removal from index
Revision history

Download options

PhilArchive copy

Upload a copy of this paper     Check publisher's policy     Papers currently archived: 61,064
External links

Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server
Configure custom proxy (use this if your affiliation does not provide a proxy)
Through your library

References found in this work BETA

No references found.

Add more references

Citations of this work BETA

Evidence or Prejudice? A Reply to Matlock. [REVIEW]Keith Augustine - 2016 - Journal of Parapsychology 80:203-231.

Add more citations

Similar books and articles

The Pluralizability Objection to a New-Body Afterlife.Theodore M. Drange - 2015 - In Keith Augustine & Michael Martin (eds.), The Myth of an Afterlife: The Case against Life After Death. Rowman & Littlefield. pp. 405-408.
On Imagining the Afterlife.K. Mitch Hodge - 2011 - Journal of Cognition and Culture 11 (3-4):367-389.
Conceptual Problems Confronting a Totally Disembodied Afterlife.Theodore M. Drange - 2015 - In Keith Augustine & Michael Martin (eds.), The Myth of an Afterlife. Rowman & Littlefield. pp. 329-333.
Coadaptation and the Inadequacy of Natural Selection.Mark Ridley - 1982 - British Journal for the History of Science 15 (1):45-68.
Meaning in Life.Thaddeus Metz - 2017 - In Benjamin Matheson & Yujin Nagasawa (eds.), The Palgrave Handbook on the Afterlife. Palgrave-Macmillan. pp. 353-370.
Death and the Afterlife.Niko Kolodny (ed.) - 2013 - Oup Usa.
The Folk Psychology of Souls.Jesse M. Bering - 2006 - Behavioral and Brain Sciences 29 (5):453-+.
Life After Death: Some Early Confucian Views.Lee Dian Rainey - 1990 - Dissertation, University of Toronto (Canada)


Added to PP index

Total views

Recent downloads (6 months)

How can I increase my downloads?


Sorry, there are not enough data points to plot this chart.

My notes